These pages contains some pre-course thoughts and notes. I’ve written about what I hope to get from each of the modules, but doing so has made me more acutely aware of the similarities between language teaching and complex systems, in that so many factors contribute to a course or lesson. I’ve categorised my initial thoughts under headings relating to the course modules, but there are naturally overlaps in which each is informed by the others.
TE716 Language Awareness
A deeper understanding of language structures and grammar. I currently feel very confident with certain areas of grammar that I’ve taught a lot and have developed my own activities for, but other areas that I don’t teach so frequently require me to do more preparation before a lesson, or prevent me from being able to explain / practise them as effectively as I’d like to if they crop up during class.
Different perspectives and ways of thinking about language. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, since reading Michael Lewis’ The English Verb. The book has begun to change the way I think about some aspects of grammar and the way we teach them. It seems that some of the grammar ‘rules’ we teach from course books are shortcuts – points which are presented as rules which in fact have exceptions that make the rules inconsistent. This causes learners to come unstuck when they later encounter examples which contradict the rule. As Lewis states, if there’s an exception to the rule, the rule is wrong.
A better understanding of Discourse Analysis. This is an area I find interesting, especially in relation to the social element of language and what informs the choices we make about the words we use. I often think about (and have been collecting examples of) people’s utterances. I like to consider how an alternative choice of words would change the speakers meaning and the impact it would have on the listener, as well as how the choice of words is informed by semantics and pragmatics.
Greater awareness and understanding of a range of methods and approaches in order to more clearly understand what does (and doesn’t) work for me and what influences my choices in the classroom, which have thus far been largely (but not wholly) intuitive.
TE719 TEACHING AND REFLECTION
More practice of good habits. As for most teachers, there are frequently classroom practices I’d like to implement but don’t always manage to. Limited preparation time means that some practices are best formed as habits that occur without thinking, as opposed to planned scripts that we use in a lesson. Habits are formed with practice, and I anticipate clearly identifying ways to improve my teaching that (where applicable) can become a natural part of my lessons.
A greater awareness of how my teaching practice is informed by methodology and SLA theories and research.
More confidence using authentic and literary texts as a language and teaching resource – an area of personal interest which I would like to develop.
Activities and techniques with which to involve learners more deeply in course planning, especially General English students whose awareness and understanding of their needs is often less than that of Business English clients. I always try to involve learners in these aspects by asking directly for their input, but find it more challenging with lower levels and sometimes fear that asking students to identify their (perceived) needs undermines some students’ faith in me as a teacher when they expect the teacher to ‘know everything’.
TE711 Second Language Acquisition
A clearer idea of what I think and believe about FLA and SLA, which I think will only come about by my understanding various theories of SLA. I wonder how I can explore such theories in some practical way in order to gain a deeper understanding of them? How do theories travel from theory to classroom practice? How do particular theories translate into approaches or theoretical rationales, and these in turn to methods or plans, and these to techniques and activities? I’d like to be able to confidently say that when you believe X, Y is what you do in the classroom.
theories of SLA ⇒ methodology ⇒ approach ⇒ technique
Further development of my own materials. Ideas so far: something grammar related to improve my language awareness. A resource book using authentic materials. A collection of human rights related materials. Something that includes ‘noticing’ and critical thinking activities. Something with an accessible justification for learners so they know why they’re doing what they’re doing. Something that explains how to apply similar activities with texts they source themselves, thereby developing learner autonomy. Something with writing. Something that makes use of my creative capacity for mind mapping. Something beautiful. Something with guts. Something with all of the above. Something coherent and cohesive.
Improved skills to continue developing my own materials beyond the course.
A great qualification. Intellectual Stimulation. Pleasure and enjoyment. New friends. Experience studying more efficiently and effectively.